Saudi Arabia arrested dozens of royal family members and government officials over the weekend in what the government said was a new anti-corruption drive.
Widely seen as a decisive move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate his power in the kingdom, the arrests netted some of Saudi Arabia’s richest men, with at least $33 billion in net worth between them.
By far the biggest fish was Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an internationally prominent investor with an estimated net worth of $17 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Alwaleed, the nephew of former Saudi King Abdullah, has significant investments in U.S., European and Saudi companies, as well has major hotel real estate holdings, including the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Alwaleed is perhaps best known for large equity stakes in leading U.S. technology companies. He owns approximately 5 percent of Apple and Twitter, in addition to unknown stakes in Lyft, Ebay, Motorola Solutions and Time Warner, according to Reuters.
The Saudi government has said it will freeze the bank account of Saudi princes and other officials arrested in the corruption sweep. More worrisome for Alwaleed, the royal order stated that any “asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property.”
It remains unclear if the Saudi government will target assets held by Kingdom Holding Group, Alwaleed’s publicly traded investment company. Following the prince’s detention, the firm released a statement saying it “enjoys a solid financial position” and the government has “full confidence” in the company, reports Bloomberg.
Even if Saudi authorities confiscate Alwaleed’s overseas holdings, the government would not likely liquidate his portfolio and cause the value of his investments to plummet.
“It’s too soon to tell what Prince Alwaleed’s fate might be and what consequences that might have on his portfolio,” Edward Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, told USA Today. “If the state confiscates his portfolio, sales [of any stock] would probably occur gradually.”
Kingdom Holding shares have fallen by about 20 percent since Alwaleed’s detention.
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